Big Data is being implemented – let us hope we know why.

 Several years ago, in the early days of BillingViews, the industry was fixated by IMS. There were conferences (probably Summits, maybe trade shows), there was hype, reports and predictions of rampant growth.

We quietly did a survey amongst our operator friends.

Is, we asked, IMS strategic to your plans.

The answer, when it came back, made us laugh.

Yes, they said, we will be implementing it within the next 18 months….but we have no idea why, or what we are going to use it for.

Such is the power of a decent wave of hype and hyperbole.

Nuggets reach us of this year’s survey by – an excellent annual look at the telecoms industry.

Last year’s survey had a focus on the cloud. 80 percent of respondents thought that by 2015 operators would own their own cloud infrastructure and 90 percent thought operators would be selling cloud services in the same time frame. Leaving aside the small detail of the optimism of the ten percent, this year focused on Big Data (whenever Big Data appears in print, the voice of James Earl Jones seems to appear with it).

The plans for Big Data mimic those of IMS a few years ago a little too closely.

Just over 22 percent are expecting to implement a Big Data initiative this year, 12 percent already have one in place to drive internal improvements, almost 11 percent have one that is driving new revenues and 23.6 percent have one that is supporting both.

Which is excellent news, but there seems to be no clear reason for all this implementation of Big Data (Luke, Luke….). We can only hope that it is less about the realization that operators suffer from Big Data, we have known that for a long time, but finally a realization that the combination of common sense and analytics can provide much greater insights into what customers actually want than ever before. As we have said, when it comes to Big Data, start small and use common sense.

Interestingly, there was a definite sea change at the TM Forum’s Big Data conference this year. The discussion had moved from concept, occasional success stories and guerilla tactics to a mainstream understanding that to ignore the opportunity provided with all this data is to run a big risk. Your competitors might do something amazing with it.

The other plausible reason for all this implementing is that the buzz word and the hype has reached the Boardroom and executives with their ‘eyes on the prize’ are stepping up to sponsor the company’s Big Data initiative.

Whatever the reason, let us hope that the thinking behind implementing these potentially game changing tools is clear. If it is just a strategy based on the fear of being left behind, the results are likely to be greater confusion not greater clarity.

And that may be the first step towards the ‘dark side.’

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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